MACHINE HEAD | THE EPIC 1972 ALBUM THAT PUT THE “DEEP” IN DEEP PURPLE

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Deep Purple credits none other than Led Zeppelin for finally giving the band their focus.  The boys in Deep Purple had experimented a lot with their sound in their early years– adding elements of psychedelia, and funk to their sound.  With Led Zeppelin (and Black Sabbath) blazing the way by laying down the most epic, indestructible and powerful ‘Riff Rock’ tracks of all time– they finally knew exactly how they wanted to sound.  The Mk II lineup was unstoppable– Ian Gillan (easily one of Rock and Roll’s best vocalists), guitarist Ritchie Blackmore (’nuff said), Roger Glover on bass, Ian Paice on drums, and arguably one of the most important elements to the “Deep Purple” sound that truly separated them from the pack– the eloquent and driving keyboard playing of Jon Lord.

Coming off a huge 15 month tour to support their successful In Rock, the band holed up in ‘Le Pavillon’, an old hotel in Montreux, Switzerland. Using the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit, Deep Purple recorded one of the hardest rocking albums of all time– Machine Head. Apparently the locals were not aware or appreciative that Rock history was in the making. In the middle of recording ‘Smoke on the Water’ the Swiss police showed up– pounding on the door to shut them down for keeping up the entire town of Montreux.  Deep Purple’s roadees were holding the doors shut so that the band could get the track down on tape before getting thrown out.  Deep Purple had to find new digs to record in, and finally came across a grand old Victorian hotel on the edge of town that was shutdown for the season– it was now the depths of winter.  They found a tiny, quirky little space off of the main lobby where they could setup, and that was where Machine Head would be recorded– in just 3 weeks.  Quick, dirty, and epic.

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1971, Montreux, Switzerland — Singer Ian Gillan of  Deep Purple playing guitar. Their epic album “Machine Head” was recorded in an old hotel in Montreux, Switzerland using the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit. – Image by © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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“…Highway Star was written on a bus going down to Portsmouth. We were playing Portsmouth Guild Hall– and we took some of the filthy press down with us, to, um… and Ritchie was dickin’ around on his banjo, and one of them said, ‘Well, how do you write a song then?’ And Ritchie went like this– he just went ‘ding,ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding… and looked out the window playing ‘ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding’–  just playing one note. So, I started singing– and uh, we played the song in the show that night.”

–Ian Gillan of Deep Purple

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’71, Montreux, Switzerland — Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore — Image by © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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“We had the Rolling Stones’ mobile recording unit sitting outside in the snow, but to get there we had to run cable through two doors in the corridor into a room, through a bathroom and into another room, from which it went across a bed and out the veranda window, then ran along the balcony for about 100 feet and came back in through another bedroom window. It then went through that room’s bathroom and into another corridor, then all the way down a marble staircase to the foyer reception area of the hotel, out the front door, across the courtyard and up the steps into the back of the mobile unit. I think that setup led to capturing some spontaneity, because once we got to the truck for a playback, even if we didn’t think it was a perfect take, we’d go, ‘Yeah, that’s good enough.’ Because we just couldn’t stand going back again.”

–Ritchie Blackmore


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’71, Montreux, Switzerland — Deep Purple Bassist Roger Glover — Image © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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’71, Montreux, Switzerland — Deep Purple Drummer Ian Paice — Image by © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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’71, Montreux, Switzerland — Deep Purple Keyboardist Jon Lord  – Image © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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’71, Montreux, Switzerland — Singer Ian Gillan of Deep Purple — Image by © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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1971, Montreux, Switzerland — Guitarist Ritchie Blackmore of  – Image by © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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1971, Montreux, Switzerland — Deep Purple Bassist Roger Glover playing around on Ritchie’s Fender Strat guitar during the making of Machine Head — Image by © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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1971, Montreux, Switzerland — Deep Purple Keyboardist Jon Lord rehearsing during the making of Machine Head — Image by © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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1971, Montreux, Switzerland — Deep Purple Bassist Roger Glover — Image © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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’71, Montreux, Switzerland — Deep Purple Keyboardist Jon Lord  – Image © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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1971, Montreux, Switzerland — Bass Guitarist Roger Glover and Guitarist Ian Gillan of Deep Purple — Image by © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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1971, Montreux, Switzerland —  (Deep Purple) Roger Glover’s Rickenbacker Bass Guitar — Image by © Shepard Sherbell/Corbis

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Deep Purple, Mach II lineup

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Deep Purple – Machine Head

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14 thoughts on “MACHINE HEAD | THE EPIC 1972 ALBUM THAT PUT THE “DEEP” IN DEEP PURPLE

  1. Wow, great pictures. This music is older than me but I definitively love it. Sounds like that aren’t recorded this days any more. There are some unique bands out now, but most other sound all alike. Same goes for movies. Haven’t been in cinema for months since nothing worth watching is beeing played. Cinema is 100 m away from where I live and has six separate screens. However, I prefer sticking to my DVD collection of “old” movies. Current favority: Alien.

  2. Saw them in Denver, 1973. Lazy is still one of the best songs I’ve ever heard played at a rock concert- all 15 or 20 minutes of it.

  3. Great pics. I remember cruising around in my vee dub playing SOTW on a cassette deck. Over and over. Thx for the memory.

  4. There may be something somewhere about this, but it would be interesting to see an article about the Stones’ mobile recording unit. That thing was responsible for so many great recordings, and not just for the Stones’ stuff.

  5. Ian Gillan in his prime was a leather lunged powerhouse. He was at his best with Deep Purple in the early ’70′s, though his Black Sabbath album “Born Again” was tremendous as well.

  6. I have seen these guys 3 times. The last time was in Nuernberg Germany at the Monsters of rock. They Headlined over, to name a few, Dio, Metallica,Ratt, and Cinderella. I remember telling the girl I was with “I hope they play Highway Star”!! Pace started out smacking the snare thru what seemed a million watts, getting faster, then Lord was on the keys playing classical arpaegieos, then Glover laying down a deep toned rumble. Blackmore was busy throwing cups of water at the on stage camera man. All of a sudden Ian Gillian let go with the highest scream I have ever seen a man do, and the all broke into Highway star……My brain melted. Original line up, excellent music, massive wattage the crowd singing with Gillian thru almost every song. I will never forget it.

  7. Glenn Gould yesterday, and Deep Purple today. Is this a great blog, or what?

    I first got turned onto DP when a friend loaned me his copy of Deep Purple and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Great record that I’ve never been able to find since.

    The Mk2 band was definitely the best, but Made in Europe is an excellent recording, with the Mk3 band. But my all time favorite is Machine Head.

    Future suggestion: Rod Serling. Twilight Zone = greatest TV show EVER!

  8. Still one of the top few greatest rock albums of all time! I remember listening to that album in college…possibly after something recreational..

  9. I agree with Mike. Every time I check out this blog it’s like JP has been reading my mind. Quite scary actually.

  10. I can still name all seven songs of this album, in order, I think. Blackmore at his best. My son and his buddies call Jon Lord ‘Lord Jon’ for obvious reasons. ‘Lazy’?!?! What a classic. Up there with the best of Zep. Not a bad song on the album. And what so many bands forget today: MELODY!!!! Got it you young bands?!?! Melody!

  11. for the first time on The Selvedge Yard, i find myself at a loss for words. Deep Purple is without a doubt the closest thing to Spinal Tap in the real world. my god – middle school lyrics, high school song structure. it’s pretty much embarrassing to listen to.

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